‘Rat-a-tooey’ it has always been, but ‘rat-a-twee’ it should be. What we’ve done to the language, we’ve also done to this Provençal vegetable stew, which requires a bit more care in the cooking than it usually gets. In summer, grill the vegetables and sandwich them together with stewed onion and tomato, as shown here. In winter, just stew it all together. Ratatouille means to toss together, so don’t worry if it looks a right mess.
Slice eggplants lengthwise, sprinkle with salt, and leave for one hour to draw out any bitter juices. Rinse well and pat dry.
Slice onions into rings. Cut tomatoes in half and squeeze out and discard seeds and juices. Cut flesh into chunks. Peel garlic cloves and squash flat.
Heat olive oil in frypan and cook onions and garlic for 10 minutes until soft. Add tomatoes, bay leaf, rosemary sprigs and basil leaves, pepper and salt, and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, raising the heat to evaporate any excess juices. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.
Cut each red pepper lengthwise into four, discarding seeds. Cut each zucchini lengthwise into fine slices, discarding the outer slices.
Brush eggplant, red pepper and zucchini with olive oil and grill until cooked and well marked. Layer eggplant and red pepper, then tomato stew, more red pepper, eggplant and zucchini, finishing with a dollop of tomato stew.
Serve hot, warm or cold.
© 1998 All rights reserved. Published by Murdoch Books.